[Health alert] FDA issues new warnings for “widely used” prescription drug

  •  Federal health regulators will bolster warning labels on the most widely used prescription painkillers, part of a multi-pronged government campaign to reverse an epidemic of abuse and death tied to drugs like Vicodin and Percocet.

The Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday plans to add a new boxed warning — the most serious type — to all immediate-release opioid painkillers, including combination pills containing oxycodone and non-prescription drug ingredients. Those drugs, sold as Vicodin and many generic brands, are consistently among the most prescribed drugs in the U.S., accounting for more than 135 million prescriptions in 2012.

The long-awaited change comes roughly three years after the FDA added bolder warnings to long-acting opioid drugs like OxyContin, which slowly release their doses over 12 hours or more. The labeling switch means both drug formulations will now carry similar information about the risks of addiction, abuse, overdose and death.

“Today’s actions are one of the largest undertakings for informing prescribers of risks across opioid products,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf, in a statement.

Critics of the FDA’s approach to regulating opioids, including the group Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, have for years petitioned the agency to bolster warnings on immediate-release opioids.

Opioids are a class of powerful and highly-addictive drugs that include both prescription drugs like codeine and hydrocodone, as well as illegal narcotics, like heroin. Prescription opioids accounted for over $9 billion in sales last year for companies like Teva Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceutical, Purdue Pharma and others.

Deaths linked to misuse and abuse of prescription opioids climbed to 19,000 in 2014, the highest figure on record, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heroin and opioid painkillers combined caused 28,650 fatal overdoses. Many prescription opioid abusers eventually switch to heroin because it sells for up to five times less than pills or tablets.

Government officials have already tried a variety of approaches to tackling painkiller abuse in recent years. The FDA previously restricted drugs like Vicodin to limit refills and who can prescribe them. States like Florida and New York have cracked down on “pill mills” using databases to monitor what doctors are prescribing. Earlier this month, Massachusetts signed into law a seven-day limit on first-time prescriptions for opioids — the first of its kind in the nation.

The FDA announcement comes less than a week after the CDC released the first-ever national prescribing guidelines for using opioids. The agency said primary care doctors should only turn to opioids after considering physical therapy, over-the-counter medications, counseling and other methods for treating chronic pain. When prescribing opioids for short-term pain, the agency said doctors should prescribe a 3-day supply, whenever possible.

The Associated Press contributed to this article. 

BACK to  http://margotbworldnews.com

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Science Explains How Complaining is Negatively Altering Your Brain

Alex Pietrowski, Staff
Waking Times

Listening to someone complain, even if it’s yourself, has never done anyone any good. Some people say that it may act as a catharsis, a way to let go of negative emotions and experiences, and maybe letting it all out once in a while does feel good, but taking a closer look at what complaining actually does to the brain gives us even more cause to strive for a positive frame of mind and cut out the complaining.

“Synapses That Fire Together Wire Together”

The brain is a complex physical organ that somehow works in tandem with consciousness to create the personality of a human being, always learning, always re-creating and re-generating itself. It is both the product of reality and the creator of reality, and science is finally beginning to under stand how the brain actually creates reality.

Author, computer scientist and philosopher, Steven Parton, examined the ways in which negative emotions in the form of complaining, both expressed by the self and experienced from others, affect the brain and body, coming up with a number of keen observations that help us to understand why some people can’t seem to get out of a negative mood.

His theory suggests that negativity and complaining actually physically alters the structure and function of the mind and body.

“Synapses that fire together wire together,” says Parton, which is a concise way of understanding the essence of neuroplasticity, the science of how the brain re-wires itself based on whatever it is repetitively exposed to. Negativity and complaining breeds more of the same, as this theory points out.

Parton explains further:

“The principle is simple: Throughout your brain there is a collection of synapses separated by empty space called the synaptic cleft. Whenever you have a thought, one synapse shoots a chemical across the cleft to another synapse, thus building a bridge over which an electric signal can cross, carrying along its charge the relevant information you’re thinking about.

…Every time this electrical charge is triggered, the synapses grow closer together in order to decrease the distance the electrical charge has to cross…. The brain is rewiring its own circuitry, physically changing itself, to make it easier and more likely that the proper synapses will share the chemical link and thus spark together–in essence, making it easier for the thought to trigger.”

Furthermore, his understanding of this process includes the idea that the electrical connections most utilized by the brain will become shorter, and therefore more frequently chosen for use by the brain. This is how one’s personality is altered.

However, as conscious beings, we have the power to affect this process, simply by being aware of how the universal play of duality is at work in the nascent moments of thoughts. We have the power to choose to generate thoughts from the consciousness of love, over fear, thereby ensuring that the brain and personality are positively altered.

Empathy and the Mob Effect

There is more to this action than just the effect that complaining has on the self. This line of scientific reasoning extends to the dynamics between two-people, giving scientific understanding of how one’s complaining brings other people down.

Mirror-neurons ensure that we learn from our environment, and are the essential bio-chemical element of empathy. The brain relates to what another person is expressing, and the empathic portion of ourselves responds by ‘trying on’ this emotion as an attempt to relate to and understand the externally unfolding drama.

So, when a person enters and drops a huge boatload of gossip, negativity and drama on you, you can be assured that it is affecting you bio-chemically, and is decreasing your chances of actually being happy. Exposure to this kind of emotional outburst actually causes stress, and because stress kills, complaining and negativity may seriously be contributing to your early demise.

Parton refers to this outlook as ‘the science of happiness,’ and the example of the behavior of complaining does make a fitting case study for the connection between the power of thought and the amount of control a person can exert on the creation of our shared, three-dimensional reality.

The overall view of this is even further condensed, rather precisely, by Parton:

“…if you’re always complaining and belittling your own power in reality, you will not think you have the power to change it. And thus it will never change.”

Read more articles from Alex Pietrowski.

BACK to margotbworldnews.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Palestinian ‘state’ wins U.N. recognition

New York (CNN) — The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday endorsed an upgraded U.N. status for the Palestinian Authority, despite intense opposition from the United States and Israel.

The resolution elevates their status from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state,” the same category as the Vatican, which Palestinians hope will provide new leverage in their dealings with Israel.

Its leaders had been working with dozens of supporting nations to develop a formal draft, enlisting the backing of European countries such as France and Spain.

The vote was 138 delegates in favor of the measure, nine against and 41 abstentions, including Germany.

Read more: Palestinian United Nations bid explained

Ramallah celebrates U.N. vote

Abbas slams Israel, seeks status upgrade

Mideast Focus at U.N. General Assembly

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the move, which many call symbolic, represents a “last chance to save the two-state solution.”

It comes on the heels of an eight-day conflict that raged between Israel and Hamas fighters, where a series of airstrikes and rocket launches drew international attention and threatened regional stability.

“We did not come here seeking to delegitimize a state established years ago, and that is Israel; rather we came to affirm the legitimacy of the state that must now achieve its independence, and that is Palestine,” he said.

But Israel’s U.N. ambassador Ron Prosor said the move largely ignores the specifics of longstanding issues, such as settlements in disputed lands, and cannot substitute for direct negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

This resolution “doesn’t pursue peace,” Prosor said, criticizing Abbas for being unable to represent the Gaza Strip, where a Hamas-controlled government presides.

“It pushes it backwards,” he said.

The effort stalled last year when it became apparent that the bid could not get the necessary support in the Security Council. Observer state status does not require Security Council approval, unlike full membership recognition.

The observer status resolution needs only a majority of the U.N.’s 193 members to approve.

Read more: Palestinian move at U.N. won’t solve anything

The United States and Israel have remained steadfast in their opposition, saying the move will not advance the cause of Middle East peace.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said American leaders could not support a measure that circumvents direct talks and cautioned that Thursday’s decision did “not establish Palestine as a state.”

Rice urged both sides to the resume direct negotiations without preconditions.

“Israel is prepared to live in peace with the Palestinian state,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday. “But for peace to endure, Israel’s security must be protected, the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state and they must be prepared to end the conflict with Israel once and for all.”

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev called the resolution “political theater.”

Opinion: Why U.S., Israel should welcome Palestinian move at U.N.

But Palestinian leaders have said they had the right to go to the U.N. because Israel failed to comply with agreements signed more than two decades ago.

“It’s about a contract. Our contract is that in five years, we should have concluded the treaty of peace and all core issues. This did not happen, and we’re talking about 20 years later. And going to the U.N. is not a unilateral step,” Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said in September.

The last round of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was in 2010.

Erakat said the new status would eliminate Israeli justifications for building settlements in the disputed areas of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

But Israeli officials disagreed.

“No decision by the U.N. can break the 4,000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

Meanwhile in Washington, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak addressed his country’s relations with Iran and expressed doubt about sanctions against that country. The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog has said Iran is cooperating enough in a review of its nuclear programs.

“I don’t believe that these kinds of sanctions will bring them to a moment of truth where they sit around a table and look at each others eyes and decide that the game is over, they can’t stand it anymore, they are going to give up their nuclear intention,” Barak said.

Barak was visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who noted how the Israeli defense chief announced his retirement from political life. Panetta praised Barak’s “brilliant strategic mind” and “warrior heart.”

CNN’s Richard Roth, Anna-Maja Rappard at the United Nations and Michael Martinez contributed to this report

BACK to margotbworldnews.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cuba injects doctor diplomacy into Africa

 Oil-pumping African nations pay hefty sums to staff their hospitals with thousands of Cuban doctors, with most of the money going to the Cuban government.

Nick MiroffJune 10, 2012

HAVANA, Cuba — Africa is a growth market for the world’s best-known Cuban brand after Havana Club rum and Cohiba cigars.

That would be Cuba Rx, also known as Havana’s doctor diplomacy.

A generation ago, Fidel Castro sent Cuban soldiers to intervene in African civil conflicts and fight the Cold War against US proxies. Now, Cuba’s doctors are fanning out across the continent as the island expands its role in administering medical services to some of the world’s most ailing countries.

For Cuba the effort is good philanthropy, good diplomacy and, in some cases, good business. The Cuban missionaries are part of a widening global medical outreach that has boosted Havana’s ties around the world and earned billions in hard currency for the cash-strapped Castro government.

The largest contingent of Cuban doctors working abroad remains in Venezuela, Cuba’s closest ally, where they have helped boost support for Hugo Chavez’s government by staffing clinics in rural areas and rough neighborhoods where health services are scarce.

More from GlobalPost: Cuba without Chavez

In turn, the Venezuelan government sends Cuba billions in cash as well as critical supplies of oil. But Chavez is facing re-election in October as well as an uncertain recovery from an aggressive and still-undisclosed form of abdominal cancer.

If a leadership change in Venezuela were to cool relations with Cuba, thousands of Cuban doctors could be reassigned elsewhere — many to Africa, where fast-growing economies and rising commodity prices have left some governments flush with cash yet lacking in health care professionals.

Some 5,500 Cubans are already working in 35 of Africa’s 54 countries, Cuban Foreign Ministry official Marcos Rodriguez told reporters this week at a press conference in Havana.

Of those, 3,000 are health professionals, and 2,000 are doctors, he said.

“We have blood ties with Africa,” the deputy minister said.

Some 1.3 million African slaves were brought to Cuba during the island’s colonial period, Rodriguez said, and 2,289 Cubans died fighting in Angola between 1975 and 1990, where some 300,000 Cuban served.

“Cuba believes that it has a historic debt to Africa that must be repaid,” he said.

Then again, Cuba’s debt repayment is not an entirely one-way affair.

While Cuba sends physicians to Africa’s poorest countries and grants scholarships for their students to study medicine on the island, it does a brisk business with more prosperous countries on the continent — especially those that are rich with oil and poor in health professionals.

Petroleum-pumping Africa nations such as Algeria and Angola are paying hefty sums to staff their hospitals with Cuban doctors, with most of the money going to the Cuban government.

More from GlobalPost: Cuba costs Obama big

For instance, the Angolan government pays Cuba about $5,000 a month for each doctor the island sends, according to a source with knowledge of the arrangement. The Cuban doctor receives a $500 share.

It’s a tiny cut, but the amount is still about 10 times what Cuban doctors can earn back home. The Castro government also rewards physicians who complete medical “missions” with other perks — like the ability to buy a used car from the state.

The specific details of each arrangement between Cuba and the countries that receive its doctors and other professionals are not public. But the programs seem to work along three basic channels: providing medical help free to poor countries that can’t pay, charging countries that can pay, and training medical professionals at universities back in Cuba.

This sliding-scale policy has won Cuba friends around the world, as students from more than 100 countries have been trained at the island’s medical programs. According to a report this week in the Toronto Star, nearly 20,000 foreign students are currently receiving medical training in Cuba — including 116 Americans on scholarship.

But not all foreign students are studying in Cuba for free. When officials in Ghana announced recently they had reached a deal with the Castro government to train 250 doctors over a six-year period, the arrangement was criticized by Ghanan officials who argued the money would be better spent boosting education doctors back home.

Many African doctors who train abroad opt to work in foreign countries where salaries are higher, and the Cuba’s training urges them to serve their communities back home.

After the 1959 Cuban Revolution, Africa was one of the first places Cuba’s health missionaries went when a small medical brigade arrived in Algeria following the country’s anti-colonial fight against France. Cuban medical personnel also accompanied Cuban soldiers sent to aid leftist allies in Angola, Namibia and elsewhere.

And the ideological battle between the US and Cuba is still playing out on African soil. A program created by the Bush administration in 2006 creates special visas for Cuban medical personnel who wish to defect from their missions abroad.

About 800 doctors have done so to date, drawing fierce criticism from the Castro government, which says the US visa program deprives poor countries of desperately needed medical care.

More from GlobalPost: When the BRICs crumble

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/cuba/120608/cuban-doctor-diplomacy-africa

FROM AROUND THE WEB

BACK to margotbworldnews.com

Posted in Americas | Leave a comment
Mac Slavo
May 25th, 2012
SHTFplan.com

Comments (225)
 You may have entertained the idea of an improbable civilization ending events such as a ‘global killerasteroid, earth crust displacement or massive solar storms, but what if there existed a situation right now that was so serious that it literally threatened our very existence?

According to a host of scientists, nuclear

experts and researchers, were are facing exactly such a scenario – and current efforts may not be able to stop it.

When the Fukushima nuclear plants sustained structural damage and a catastrophic failure of their spent fuel cooling systems in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and Tsunami in 2011, it left the government of Japan, Tokyo Power and nuclear regulatory agencies around the world powerless to contain the release of deadly radiation. A year on, the battle for control of Fukushima continues to no avail.

It’s estimated that tens of thousands of people in Japan and the whole of North America have been affected, with reports indicating that children in Japan and the U.S. are already being born with birth defects, as well as thousands who have already succumbed to radiation related illness. As we initially followed the breaking news during the first thirty days of the accident, we suggested the Fukushima disaster would be worse than Chernobyl. Not even we could have imagined how much worse it would be.

If current estimates are correct, Fukushima has already released as much radiation into the atmosphere and Pacific Ocean as Chernobyl, and the potential for a disaster at least ten times worse is highly probable in the event of another earthquake or accident that leads to a collapse of the cooling structures which are above ground and have already suffered significant damage.

According to U.S. Army General Albert N. Stubblebine (ret.) of the Natural Solutions Foundation, the situation is extremely serious and poses a significant danger to our entire civilization. Since TEPCO and the Japanese government have refused the entombment option (as the Russians did with Chernobyl) the world is at the mercy of nature. A mistake here would cause the deaths of tens of millions of people across the globe.

If there ever existed a threat that could cause the end of the world as we know it, it’s the ongoing and unresolved nuclear saga in Japan:

When the highly radioactive Spent Fuel Rods are exposed to air, there will be massive explosions releasing many times the amount or radiation released thus far. Bizarrely, they are stored three stories above ground in open concrete storage pools. Whether through evaporation of the water in the pools, or due to the inevitable further collapse of the structure, there is a severe risk. United States public health authorities agree that tens of thousands of North Americans have already died from the Fukushima calamity. When the final cataclysm occurs, sooner rather than later, the whole Northern Hemisphere is at risk of becoming largely uninhabitable.

Fact. On March 11, 2011, Fukushima Daichi nuclear power station with six nuclear reactors suffered cataclysmic damage that some believe was a man made event,and the resulting Tsunami. Hydrogen explosions…at least one nuclear explosion… and then subsequent deterioration of the visible plants at five of those reactors have created a threat situation unparalleled in human history.

Fact. Despite denial and cover-up, the reality has emerged, that enormous amounts of radioactive material has been spewing into the atmosphere, polluting the groundwater, and the food of Japan, and entering by the tens of millions of gallons the waters of the Pacific.

There’s no way to sugarcoat these facts. Denying them, blocking them out, pretending that they are not real is of no help to you and your family, and it leaves you totally unprepared for a danger that the Natural Solutions Foundation has been warning about since the first day. As of three weeks ago the levels of radiation inside of the spent fuel pools of unit no. 2 are too high to measure. Get that… too high to measure. And, the water there is evaporating, meaning that heat and radiation could easily build to very high levels.

Very simply put, if this much Cesium 137 is released, it will destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants.

This is an issue of human survival.

We can play the denial game all day long and pretend that, because the mainstream media is not reporting on it, there is no threat, but the facts are quite clear.

This is, without a doubt, the most immediate threat faced by the world. It’s so serious, in fact, that the Japanese government has considered and put into place evacuation plans for the whole of Tokyo – some 40 million people. Reports are also emerging that suggest a collapse of the spent fuel pools would be so serious that the entire country of Japan may have to be evacuated. The entire country – that’s 125 million refugees that will cause an unprecedented humanitarian disaster.

Before you argue that these are the ravings of just alternative media conspiracy theorists and fear mongers, consider the assessment put forth by Robert Alvarez , a senior policy adviser to the Secretary for National Security and the Environment for the US Department of Energy:

The No. 4 pool is about 100 feet above ground, is structurally damaged and is exposed to the open elements. If an earthquake or other event were to cause this pool to drain this could result in a catastrophic radiological fire involving nearly 10 times the amount of Cs-137 released by the Chernobyl accident.

The infrastructure to safely remove this material was destroyed as it was at the other three reactors.  Spent reactor fuel cannot be simply lifted into the air by a crane as if it were routine cargo.  In order to prevent severe radiation exposures, fires and possible explosions, it must be transferred at all times in water and heavily shielded structures into dry casks.. As this has never been done before, the removal of the spent fuel from the pools at the damaged Fukushima-Dai-Ichi reactors will require a major and time-consuming re-construction effort and will be charting in unknown waters.

The total spent reactor fuel inventory at the Fukushima-Daichi site contains nearly half of  the total amount of Cs-137 estimated by the NCRP to have been released by all atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, Chernobyl, and world-wide reprocessing plants (~270 million curies or ~9.9 E+18 Becquerel).

It is important for the public to understand that reactors that have been operating for decades, such as those at the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site, have generated some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet.

Regulatory agencies all over the world are warning of the potentiality of a further degradation of the Fukushima nuclear reactors and spent fuel pools, and the subsequent nuclear fallout that would follow.

If these reactors go – and they could at any moment for any number of reasons – we’re looking at a situation for which you simply cannot stock enough food, or water, or supplies. Radiation would spread across the entire northern hemisphere and would be impossible to contain.

While we’ve argued in the past that there is no place we’d rather be than in the United States of America in the event of a socioeconomic collapse or global conflict, if these spent fuel pools collapse, then an international exit strategy may be the only option.

Because details are sparse and research limited, it is difficult to predict what nuclear fall out from Japan may look like. The following map may be of some help, as it details the estimated fallout pattern resulting from a nuclear war between Russia and the United States. You’ll note that, while most of the world would be irradiated, the southern hemisphere would be your best bet to avoid the brunt of it:

(via Where Do I Go If Fukushima Blows?)

Beachfront property in Antarctica sounds quite appealing right about now.

For breaking news on Fukushima follow: Stan Deyo, Jeff Rense, Steve Quayle, Alexander Higgins, Infowars, The Intel Hub

Author: Mac Slavo

Views: Read by 18,620 people
Date: May 25th, 2012
Website: www.SHTFplan.com

Copyright Information: Copyright SHTFplan and Mac Slavo. This content may be freely reproduced in full or in part in digital form with full attribution to the author and a link to http://www.shtfplan.com. Please contact us for permission to reproduce this content in other media formats.

Link | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Quebec University Students & the Canadian Corpocracy

pastedGraphic

The striking Quebec students understand the greater dynamic and enormous role they are playing in the drama of to be Canadians like we have been, or to be serfs. The Quebec students are holding up the threats of the whole country being undermined. The students are a huge threat not only to Quebec, but to the media informing other Canadian University students potentially becoming precursors for many more ‘waking up’ to the corpocracy of bankers robbing Canada like they have done to the USA…


Anyone noticing the CA banks recent inducements of ‘you are pre-approved for a loan on visa, etc…?

Over 165,000 Students On Strike in Quebec Over Planned Tuition Hikes
How did Quebec Students Mobilize Hundreds of Thousands for Strike?
Quebec Students Demand Education as a Right, Continue Strike

Defiant Quebec Students Reject Shabby Government Offer
By Richard Fidler
Global Research, May 9, 2012
Socialist Project – 2012-05-08
Quebec college and university students are now in the 13th week of their militant province-wide strike while voting by overwhelming majorities to reject a government offer that met none of their key demands. After a 22-hour bargaining session involving ministers of the Charest government, university and college heads, and leaders of the major trade-union centrals, the student leaders agreed on May 6 to put the offer to a vote of their respective membership without recommending acceptance. If the offer (the French-language text is here) were accepted:
The 75 per cent hike in tuition fees (now spread over seven years, but indexed) would remain, albeit with slightly liberalized access to scholarships and loans, and provision for repayment of loans geared to future income.
A provisional committee would examine university budgets and propose possible cuts. Each dollar cut would go to reducing incidental fees not related directly to tuition (admission, registration, sports services, technology, etc.).
The committee would include four students, but also fourteen other members: 6 university rectors, 4 trade union representatives as well as 2 representatives of business, 1 from the ministry of education, and a chair with a tie-breaking vote – the latter four all designated by the minister of education.
The committee would table its recommendations by December although if necessary its mandate could be extended by one more year. It might then be replaced by a permanent committee appointed by law, its composition undetermined at this point.
Pending the provisional committee’s conclusions, the students’ incidental fees would be deferred. However, these fees would apply retroactively to the students in any amount the committee is unable to cut from current expenses.
There is no assurance that the proposed committee would agree on budget cuts sufficient to reduce or eliminate the hike in tuition fees. Furthermore, the committee would be composed largely of members with a vested interest in opposing cuts in expenditures, especially in research and funding of pro-business courses.

Market Prerogatives, Not Social Need
Most importantly, the offer, if accepted, would trivialize the key demands advanced by the students throughout the strike movement: for an immediate freeze on tuition fee levels, increased access to quality education and a public debate on the long-ignored goal of free and universal education from kindergarten to university. It would force the students into a market-driven accounting exercise, striving to justify cuts in spending on infrastructures, research, courses and teachers’ salaries – just when students and professors have struck a responsive chord among many Québécois with their united campaign against the underfunding of public post-secondary education in the province.
Small wonder, then, that this miserable “offer” is being rejected overwhelmingly by students across Quebec. And thousands are continuing to march for hours each night through the streets of Montréal, in spontaneous demonstrations that began some two weeks ago in rejection of an earlier offer by the Liberal government.
In continuing their boycott of classes, which has shut down the majority of Quebec’s major post-secondary educational institutions, the students are courageously risking loss of credit for an entire semester. They have led an exemplary struggle, conducted since the beginning with mass democratic assemblies and decision-making. The three main student organizations – the CLASSE, FEUQ and FECQ[1] – have maintained a united front in the face of repeated government attempts to divide them and isolate the more radical CLASSE from the other two groups.
They have withstood vicious media attacks on them as a selfish elite, and the exploitation of a few, isolated acts of violence against property (often by Black Bloc anarchists) to portray the students as little more than publicity-seeking vandals.
They have successfully defied more than a dozen court injunctions ordering universities to reopen and professors to teach.
And they have resisted massive police repression that has resulted in the arrest of well over 1,000 students and serious injury to some as a result of the cops’ use of rubber bullets, concussion grenades and tear gas.
Solidarity Lacking
But by themselves – notwithstanding these heroic actions – the students have been unable to create a social relationship of forces sufficient to break through the unyielding opposition of the government and the business class it represents. They have won significant support from some community grass-roots groups, including a broad-based Coalition against privatization and user fees for public services. The Coalition was a prime organizer of the massive demonstration at the Liberal party’s general council meeting May 4-5, held in the town of Victoriaville in the futile hope of avoiding pro-student demonstrations in Montréal.
Notably missing, however, has been active solidarity from Quebec’s trade unions, whose million-plus members represent the largest social force with the potential economic clout to defeat the government and business assault on the students. The major centrals and many local unions have issued statements in support of the students, and some have contributed funds to their organizations. But they have made no effort to organize economic action, even a one-day general strike in support of the students’ demands as requested by the CLASSE. And now their central leaders appear to have been accomplices in the government’s latest manoeuvres with the students.
By the 12th week of the student strike, the government was coming under a lot of pressure not only from the students but from the university and college administrations, which feared they would be faced this fall with a double cohort of students in the wake of a cancelled semester – an enrolment overflow they are not equipped to accommodate. Furthermore, a mounting series of disclosures of scandals and corruption implicating government ministers in lucrative construction contracts, illegal party financing, and even possible connections with organized crime – as well as widespread criticism by First Nations and ecologists of Charest’s showcase Plan Nord program to expand mining in Quebec’s far north – have undermined the government’s legitimacy and fed rumours that Charest is planning to call an early election before the Liberals are outflanked by the opposition Parti Québécois or ultra-neoliberal Coalition Avenir Québec. However, the student unrest jeopardizes this scenario.
Charest’s Manoeuvre
The government’s response was to call a meeting on May 5-6 with the rectors and student representatives in an ultimate attempt to bludgeon the students into a deal that would, it hoped, rescue its credibility and restore order in the schools. And in a shrewd move, it invited the presidents of Quebec’s three main union centrals, the FTQ, CSN and CSQ,[2] to attend this summit, held simultaneously with the Liberal party’s general council meeting in Victoriaville.
The formula proposed by the education minister seems to draw in part on a proposal first advanced by the two relatively conservative student organizations. The FEUQ and FECQ had suggested that the tuition fee increase might be avoided through equivalent cuts in unnecessary expenditures by the universities.
The CLASSE, for its part, fought to maintain the focus on the fee hike and the broader perspective of free post-secondary education. However, its own proposal, adopted a few days later, noted that funds for higher education could be found through cuts in business-oriented research programs (not basic or theoretical research) and competitive advertising by universities; a moratorium on infrastructure expansion, including additional satellite campuses; and an immediate freeze on pay and hiring of senior university management personnel. The CLASSE also called for an “estates general” on the future of Quebec education, in which it said it would advance the demand for free education, which could be financed by a capital tax on financial institutions. And it drew attention to the huge profits being registered by the major banks, even amidst the economic crisis.
Although there were significant differences in the proposals of the respective student groups, there were clear parallels. The FEUQ and FECQ were retreating somewhat from the earlier focus on tuition fees. The CLASSE was clearly striving to maintain a united front while appealing to other forces in the community to engage in economic action in support of its overall demands.
A call for a social strike appeared on the CLASSE web site, although a discussion of this proposal, scheduled for debate at two successive meetings of its weekly congress, was postponed for lack of time. And, as mentioned, it received no response from the forces to which it was primarily addressed.
Students undefeated
Remarkably, Quebec’s major trade union leaders – experienced negotiators in hard-fought bargaining with businesses and governments – apparently advised the student leaders to accept the shabby offer presented to them by the Charest government. Although to date little has been said publicly about their role, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that their intervention did nothing to aid the students’ struggle and may in fact have undermined it.
Judging from this week’s votes rejecting the offer, however, hundreds of thousands of students have not been taken in. Their anger, and renewed mobilization, may even be preparing the way for a new advance.
While speculation on the ultimate outcome of this massive uprising is premature, it is already clear that even if the strike ends without major gains, the students have not been defeated. They have fought impressively, to the best of their ability. And they have ignited a major debate in Quebec society, challenging neoliberal prerogatives and opening the prospect of “another Quebec” in which access to education will be a basic social need, available to all irrespective of income, and not a commodity for which access and content is a function of big business exigencies. The students have set the parameters for the continuation of this important debate, which has facets that reach far beyond public education as such. •
Richard Fidler is an Ottawa member of the Socialist Project. This article first appeared on his blog Life on the Left.
Notes
1. Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante; Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec; Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec. Also participating in the negotiations was the TaCEQ (Table de concertation étudiante du Québec), which represents about 65,000 students at McGill, Laval and Sherbrooke universities. It broke with the FEUQ in 2005.
2. Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec, Confédération des syndicats nationaux, and Centrale des syndicats du Québec. Also participating was the FQPPU, the Fédération québécoise des professeures et professeurs du Québec.
On 2012-05-14, at 8:22 PM, Mike McTague wrote:

—— Forwarded Message

From: bill
Reply-To: bill
Date: Mon, 14 May 2012 20:08:52 -0700
To: <Undisclosed-Recipient:;>
Subject: Dumbing down the hoi palloi

Source: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article31320.htm

A good article, easily read and understood. University students in Quebec have been rebelling for weeks, and the establishment is increasingly violent against our students. There have been some nasty confrontations in Montreal, and the provincial government is even bringing in a law against wearing a hoodie at a demonstration. I think the student rebellion is important for the reasons stated in this article. The establishment does not want the common people to get a quality education. They raise the cost of tuition to the point where only the wealthy elite can send their children to decent high quality institutions.

I also believe that TPTB continually grind us down toward capitulation, so there’s no fight left in us. They remove our incomes, health care, education, civil rights, pensions, unions, and any other safety nets so that we are naked, isolated, demoralized and helpless, just like the black slave cotton pickers 200 years ago. If they could arrange it, we’d pay for the privilege of having a job. Come to think of it, we do already with income tax, unemployment tax levies, property tax, and all the other thefts of public wealth.
~Bill


The striking Quebec students understand the greater dynamic and enormous role they are playing in the drama of to be Canadians like we have been, or to be serfs. The Quebec students are holding up the threats of the whole country being undermined. The students are a huge threat not only to Quebec, but to the media informing other Canadian University students potentially becoming precursors for many more ‘waking up’ to the corpocracy of bankers robbing Canada like they have done to the USA…

Anyone noticing the CA banks recent inducements of ‘you are pre-approved for a loan on visa, etc…?

Quebec Students Rejecting Tuition Deal
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=8302

Over 165,000 Students On Strike in Quebec Over Planned Tuition Hikes
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=8206

How did Quebec Students Mobilize Hundreds of Thousands for Strike?
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=8275

Quebec Students Demand Education as a Right, Continue Strike
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=8301

Defiant Quebec Students Reject Shabby Government Offer

By Richard Fidler

Global Research, May 9, 2012

Socialist Project – 2012-05-08

URL of this article: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=30764

Quebec college and university students are now in the 13th week of their militant province-wide strike while voting by overwhelming majorities to reject a government offer that met none of their key demands. After a 22-hour bargaining session involving ministers of the Charest government, university and college heads, and leaders of the major trade-union centrals, the student leaders agreed on May 6 to put the offer to a vote of their respective membership without recommending acceptance. If the offer (the French-language text is here) were accepted:

The 75 per cent hike in tuition fees (now spread over seven years, but indexed) would remain, albeit with slightly liberalized access to scholarships and loans, and provision for repayment of loans geared to future income.

A provisional committee would examine university budgets and propose possible cuts. Each dollar cut would go to reducing incidental fees not related directly to tuition (admission, registration, sports services, technology, etc.).

The committee would include four students, but also fourteen other members: 6 university rectors, 4 trade union representatives as well as 2 representatives of business, 1 from the ministry of education, and a chair with a tie-breaking vote – the latter four all designated by the minister of education.

The committee would table its recommendations by December although if necessary its mandate could be extended by one more year. It might then be replaced by a permanent committee appointed by law, its composition undetermined at this point.

Pending the provisional committee’s conclusions, the students’ incidental fees would be deferred. However, these fees would apply retroactively to the students in any amount the committee is unable to cut from current expenses.

There is no assurance that the proposed committee would agree on budget cuts sufficient to reduce or eliminate the hike in tuition fees. Furthermore, the committee would be composed largely of members with a vested interest in opposing cuts in expenditures, especially in research and funding of pro-business courses.

Market Prerogatives, Not Social Need

Most importantly, the offer, if accepted, would trivialize the key demands advanced by the students throughout the strike movement: for an immediate freeze on tuition fee levels, increased access to quality education and a public debate on the long-ignored goal of free and universal education from kindergarten to university. It would force the students into a market-driven accounting exercise, striving to justify cuts in spending on infrastructures, research, courses and teachers’ salaries – just when students and professors have struck a responsive chord among many Québécois with their united campaign against the underfunding of public post-secondary education in the province.

Small wonder, then, that this miserable “offer” is being rejected overwhelmingly by students across Quebec. And thousands are continuing to march for hours each night through the streets of Montréal, in spontaneous demonstrations that began some two weeks ago in rejection of an earlier offer by the Liberal government.

In continuing their boycott of classes, which has shut down the majority of Quebec’s major post-secondary educational institutions, the students are courageously risking loss of credit for an entire semester. They have led an exemplary struggle, conducted since the beginning with mass democratic assemblies and decision-making. The three main student organizations – the CLASSE, FEUQ and FECQ[1] – have maintained a united front in the face of repeated government attempts to divide them and isolate the more radical CLASSE from the other two groups.

They have withstood vicious media attacks on them as a selfish elite, and the exploitation of a few, isolated acts of violence against property (often by Black Bloc anarchists) to portray the students as little more than publicity-seeking vandals.

They have successfully defied more than a dozen court injunctions ordering universities to reopen and professors to teach.

And they have resisted massive police repression that has resulted in the arrest of well over 1,000 students and serious injury to some as a result of the cops’ use of rubber bullets, concussion grenades and tear gas.

Solidarity Lacking

But by themselves – notwithstanding these heroic actions – the students have been unable to create a social relationship of forces sufficient to break through the unyielding opposition of the government and the business class it represents. They have won significant support from some community grass-roots groups, including a broad-based Coalition against privatization and user fees for public services. The Coalition was a prime organizer of the massive demonstration at the Liberal party’s general council meeting May 4-5, held in the town of Victoriaville in the futile hope of avoiding pro-student demonstrations in Montréal.

Notably missing, however, has been active solidarity from Quebec’s trade unions, whose million-plus members represent the largest social force with the potential economic clout to defeat the government and business assault on the students. The major centrals and many local unions have issued statements in support of the students, and some have contributed funds to their organizations. But they have made no effort to organize economic action, even a one-day general strike in support of the students’ demands as requested by the CLASSE. And now their central leaders appear to have been accomplices in the government’s latest manoeuvres with the students.

By the 12th week of the student strike, the government was coming under a lot of pressure not only from the students but from the university and college administrations, which feared they would be faced this fall with a double cohort of students in the wake of a cancelled semester – an enrolment overflow they are not equipped to accommodate. Furthermore, a mounting series of disclosures of scandals and corruption implicating government ministers in lucrative construction contracts, illegal party financing, and even possible connections with organized crime – as well as widespread criticism by First Nations and ecologists of Charest’s showcase Plan Nord program to expand mining in Quebec’s far north – have undermined the government’s legitimacy and fed rumours that Charest is planning to call an early election before the Liberals are outflanked by the opposition Parti Québécois or ultra-neoliberal Coalition Avenir Québec. However, the student unrest jeopardizes this scenario.

Charest’s Manoeuvre

The government’s response was to call a meeting on May 5-6 with the rectors and student representatives in an ultimate attempt to bludgeon the students into a deal that would, it hoped, rescue its credibility and restore order in the schools. And in a shrewd move, it invited the presidents of Quebec’s three main union centrals, the FTQ, CSN and CSQ,[2] to attend this summit, held simultaneously with the Liberal party’s general council meeting in Victoriaville.

The formula proposed by the education minister seems to draw in part on a proposal first advanced by the two relatively conservative student organizations. The FEUQ and FECQ had suggested that the tuition fee increase might be avoided through equivalent cuts in unnecessary expenditures by the universities.

The CLASSE, for its part, fought to maintain the focus on the fee hike and the broader perspective of free post-secondary education. However, its own proposal, adopted a few days later, noted that funds for higher education could be found through cuts in business-oriented research programs (not basic or theoretical research) and competitive advertising by universities; a moratorium on infrastructure expansion, including additional satellite campuses; and an immediate freeze on pay and hiring of senior university management personnel. The CLASSE also called for an “estates general” on the future of Quebec education, in which it said it would advance the demand for free education, which could be financed by a capital tax on financial institutions. And it drew attention to the huge profits being registered by the major banks, even amidst the economic crisis.

Although there were significant differences in the proposals of the respective student groups, there were clear parallels. The FEUQ and FECQ were retreating somewhat from the earlier focus on tuition fees. The CLASSE was clearly striving to maintain a united front while appealing to other forces in the community to engage in economic action in support of its overall demands.

A call for a social strike appeared on the CLASSE web site, although a discussion of this proposal, scheduled for debate at two successive meetings of its weekly congress, was postponed for lack of time. And, as mentioned, it received no response from the forces to which it was primarily addressed.

Students undefeated

Remarkably, Quebec’s major trade union leaders – experienced negotiators in hard-fought bargaining with businesses and governments – apparently advised the student leaders to accept the shabby offer presented to them by the Charest government. Although to date little has been said publicly about their role, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that their intervention did nothing to aid the students’ struggle and may in fact have undermined it.

Judging from this week’s votes rejecting the offer, however, hundreds of thousands of students have not been taken in. Their anger, and renewed mobilization, may even be preparing the way for a new advance.

While speculation on the ultimate outcome of this massive uprising is premature, it is already clear that even if the strike ends without major gains, the students have not been defeated. They have fought impressively, to the best of their ability. And they have ignited a major debate in Quebec society, challenging neoliberal prerogatives and opening the prospect of “another Quebec” in which access to education will be a basic social need, available to all irrespective of income, and not a commodity for which access and content is a function of big business exigencies. The students have set the parameters for the continuation of this important debate, which has facets that reach far beyond public education as such. •

Richard Fidler is an Ottawa member of the Socialist Project. This article first appeared on his blog Life on the Left.

Notes

1. Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante; Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec; Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec. Also participating in the negotiations was the TaCEQ (Table de concertation étudiante du Québec), which represents about 65,000 students at McGill, Laval and Sherbrooke universities. It broke with the FEUQ in 2005.

2. Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec, Confédération des syndicats nationaux, and Centrale des syndicats du Québec. Also participating was the FQPPU, the Fédération québécoise des professeures et professeurs du Québec.

On 2012-05-14, at 8:22 PM, Mike McTague wrote:

From: bill

Subject: Dumbing down the hoi palloi

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article31320.htm <http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article31320.htm&gt;

A good article, easily read and understood. University students in Quebec have been rebelling for weeks, and the establishment is increasingly violent against our students. There have been some nasty confrontations in Montreal, and the provincial government is even bringing in a law against wearing a hoodie at a demonstration. I think the student rebellion is important for the reasons stated in this article. The establishment does not want the common people to get a quality education. They raise the cost of tuition to the point where only the wealthy elite can send their children to decent high quality institutions.

I also believe that TPTB continually grind us down toward capitulation, so there’s no fight left in us. They remove our incomes, health care, education, civil rights, pensions, unions, and any other safety nets so that we are naked, isolated, demoralized and helpless, just like the black slave cotton pickers 200 years ago. If they could arrange it, we’d pay for the privilege of having a job. Come to think of it, we do already with income tax, unemployment tax levies, property tax, and all the other thefts of public wealth.
~Bill

BACK to margotbworldnews.com

Posted in Americas, Canada, Quebec | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

WTF Is Going on With Peru’s Dolphins and Pelicans?

Llano bridge

Llano bridge (Photo credit: kjoyner666)

—By Julia Whitty

| Mon May. 7, 2012 12:14 PM PDT

 Hardy Jones (kneeling) and Dr. Carlos Yaipen Llanos (right) with a dead dolphin on Peru's northern coast: Courtesy BlueVoice.org

Hardy Jones (kneeling) and Dr. Carlos Yaipen Llanos (right) with a dead dolphin on Peru‘s northern coast Courtesy BlueVoice.org

Something awful is happening in the waters off Peru’s northern coast, where some 3,000 dolphins have died and washed ashore since January. This rates as one of the worst, if not the worst, Unusual Mortality Event (UME) ever recorded.

(I’ve been writing about the UME with marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico since BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster here and here and here.)

In recent weeks more than 1,200 dead seabirds, mostly pelicans, have washed up along the same Peruvian beaches. And Saturday the government declared a health alert along Peru’s northern coastline, urging residents and tourists to stay away from the beach while it investigates the unexplained deaths. It also warned local officials to wear protective gear when handling dead birds and animals.

So what’s going on?

Credit: monkey sidekick via FlickrCredit: monkey sidekick via Flickr

My friend Hardy Jones of Bluevoice.org visited Peru in late March, where he joined a crew mustered by veterinarian Dr. Carlos Yaipen Llanos, the Lima-based director of the marine mammal rescue organization ORCA Peru. In one day they counted 615 dolphin carcasses scattered over 84 miles of coast before the high tide swept them off the beach.

Two species were hit: common dolphins (both genders, all ages) and Burmeister’s porpoises (only females and calves). As Jones wrote at his blog, BlueVoice Views:

At 11am we packed into a four wheel drive Toyota pickup with a back seat cab and drove through San Jose to the beach, cranked a right turn and headed north at low tide on a beach that was mostly firm…Within a few hundred yards we began to see dead dolphins. In ones and twos, then Carlos saw a Burmeister’s Porpoise. Some were highly decomposed while others were in the surfline freshly stranded. All were dead.

 

 

Yaipen Llanos performed beach necropsies and summarized his findings:

Macroscopic findings include: hemorrhagic lesions in the middle including the acoustic chamber, fractures in the periotic bones, bubbles in blood filling liver and kidneys (animals were diving, so the main organs were congested), lesion in the lungs compatible with pulmonary emphysema, sponge-like liver. So far we have 12 periotic samples from different animals, all with different degree of fractures and 80% of them with fracture in the right periotic bones, compatible with acoustic impact and decompression syndrome…

At this point, the evidence points towards acoustic impact and decompression syndrome. However, the large aggregation of dolphins is leading towards a potential epidemic outbreak of morbillivirus, brucella or both. We have recorded morbillivirus in South American sea-lions and the Peruvian population of common dolphins is a migratory part of that at Costa Rica, so chances are high. Also, evidence of previous mass stranding of this magnitude was associated to morbillivirus outbreak in Europe during the 90’s also in common dolphins and porpoises.

 

Schematic of a marine seismic survey: Credit: Nwhit via Wikimedia CommonsSchematic of a marine seismic survey Credit: Nwhit via Wikimedia Commons

The worry about acoustic impact injuries and accompanying decompression syndrome is that offshore seismic testing by the oil and gas industry may be killing dolphins. Houston’s BPZ Energy has exclusive license contracts over 2.2 million acres in four blocks in northwest Peru, including offshore. They issued this statement on April 11, in which they don’t actually say much:

BPZ Energy, an independent oil and gas exploration and production company, today issued clarifying comments as a result of recent inquiries received regarding its offshore seismic activity and its possible relation to reported dolphin deaths in Peru. The Company also reaffirmed its commitment to good corporate citizenship in all matters, including social, community and environmental affairs. BPZ Energy operations in Tumbes are located 500 km north of Lambayeque where dolphin deaths have been reported.

It’s possible the dolphins and pelicans have been killed by different problems. Take your pick: In the case of dolphins, acoustic impact or disease outbreak (though officials have recently denied morbillivirus); in the case of the pelicans, some suggest starvation.

That’s because a massive pelican die-off occurred in the same area in 1997, due to a strong El Niño event in the Pacific, when anchovies migrated away from the coast and birds starved. Except there’s no El Niño underway just now, only the end of a La Niña event and a return to neutral ocean conditions, according to the Climate Prediction Center.

As with so many mass die-offs in the ocean, we may never know.

Julia Whitty

Environmental Correspondent

Julia Whitty is the environmental correspondent for Mother Jones. Her latest book is Deep Blue Home: An Intimate Ecology of Our Wild Ocean. For more of her stories, click here. RSS | Twitter

Posted in Americas, Animals, Environment, Science, Top Stories, U.S. | Leave a comment